Ben in Hong Kong©

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Needles and Malaria

I found myself at 3.30 pm today sitting before a doctor and explaining my travel plans. I was leaving this visit quite late and did not really want to be there. What prompted me to seek advice about vaccinations was a news programme I watched on Saturday about a new drug resistant strain of Malaria that has been found in Cambodia. My initial thought was that if there is drug resistant Malaria then there was not much point getting any immunisation for it. Then I thought about it a little more and realised that the sensible thing to do would be to go get lots of needles stuck in my arm and pay lots of money for protection against diseases with long exotic names.

The doctor went through a list of things I could catch whilst travelling which I viewed as similar to the over-the-top warning notes you see on packets of paracetamol. Then he showed me a map with areas of high risk in bright red. Everywhere I am travelling is bright red! So he listed the four injections I need and also prescribed Malaria pills called Doxycycline. I am very familiar with this medication because it's the exact same stuff I used to take for acne. He began reading out the rules for taking it and I finished his speech " No dairy products, no direct exposure to sun without high factor sun cream and beware of iron intake". "Are you a medical student?" he asked. "No, just spotty", I replied.

More impressive though was the cost of all this. Four injections and Malaria tablets for the duration of my trip costs under 50 pounds. For a country that does not have free healthcare that's really cheap!


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